The 22nd Winter Olympics are to be held in short time in Sochi, Russia. The news leading up to one of the world’s greatest sporting events hasn’t been good, to put it mildly. From stories about increased terrorist threats to Russian police threatening journalists who didn’t write positively about the games, it could be very challenging for Russia to host the Olympics games safely.
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Unfortunately, Israel, as a country, has grown accustomed to protecting itself from both internal and external threats. An entire private security industry has emerged big time from technologies and practices from the Israel Defense Forces. For example, common firewall software that protects your home computer from intrusion was made commercially available and popularized by firms like Israel’s Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP). Actimize, which helps many of the top global financial institutions detect fraud, prevent money laundering , and manage risk, is part of Israel’s Nice Systems (NASDAQ: NICE). IBM just recently purchased Trusteer, a technology firm that protects consumers and employees from viruses and hacker attacks, for close to $1 billion.
These large, publicly traded security firms have launched a growing ecosystem of startups focused on real-world security problems, both physical and virtual. That’s why global technology leaders, like Microsoft and Amazon, are eyeing more Israeli acquisitions to serve as R&D centers for security excellence.
Protect the premises and the people
Magal Security Systems: Magal (NASDAQ: MAGS) smart fencing solutions have been installed in 80 countries worldwide. One of its channel solutions is securing mega sporting events by combining tools and technology for perimeter security, access road protection, gate control, face recognition, and centralized command and control rooms for event security. The Games would benefit from strong security and surveillance on the perimeter of Sochi.
Here’s a video about Magal’s recent deployment in Mombassa, Kenya’s seaport.
FST21: Travelers in the U.S. understand how long and uncomfortable it is to secure locations like airports. But, what if you could provide the same level of security the TSA does, but without requiring hour-long queues? FST21 has an in-motion identification that uses a variety of factors to identify people before they get to a metal detector or X-Ray machine. Using facial recognition, voice, license plate, gait analysis, and more, Israeli security firms are transforming the way physical security is handled. Flyers of national carrier, ElAl, can attest to the high level of security still attainable with a lower level of friction than its American counterparts.
BriefCam: Having strong video surveillance is just one part of securing a huge event like the Russian Sochi Olympics of 2014. Someone’s got to review the video. Israel’s BriefCam can make total video review a part of a daily security routing by massively accelerating the browsing of large quantities of footage. It does this by a creative simultaneous display of events that happen at different times. The rumor mill has it that BriefCam helped identify the Boston bombers, leading to an eventual capture of the suspects. See the video below to get a better idea how this works.
Protect the systems that run the Games
CyberArk: The largest privately-held Israeli cybersecurity company (since IBM acquired Trusteer), CyberArk is “laser-focused on striking down targeted cybert threats that threaten the heart of the enterprise.” It protects the enterprise from within and without via vaulting technology that secures and manages privileged passwords and identities. There’s no doubt that CyberArk could help provide critical security among those planning the Sochi Olympics and those trying to disrupt it.
Nice Systems: As mentioned above, Nice Systems’ (Nasdaq: NICE) Actimize is a leader in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and fraud detection used by leading financial institutions around the world. It’s been rumored that it was Actimize that sniffed out the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme. If Putin wants to find the bad guys, follow the money trail. Actimize can certainly help Russia ensure the Sochi Olympics go off without a hitch.
NativeFlow: Everyone wants to use their own personal device these days. Gone are the days where enterprises issue company-secured mobile devices. Instead, firms are patching together their own security protocols and technology to batten down the hatches on what — and what can’t — be shared over mobile networks. Israel’s NativeFlow has a elegant and differentiated solution to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) problem that both enables users to feel free to use the devices they prefer (say, like an iPhone) but to lock down company-assets to prevent leakage. Good luck trying to share sensitive Sochi documents if the event organizers are using NativeFlow (disclaimer: my firm is an investor in NativeFlow).
Aorato: If the bad guys created some malware which impersonates actual Sochi organizers or security staff, that could have disastrous consequences. So, firewall software is getting smarter and more attuned to being able to identify this type of behavior. Israel’s Aorato, which recently raised a sizeable investment round from a who’s who of investors (including Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt), was created by a bunch of founders who came out of the IDF Cybersecurity Unit, learns and graphs the existing behavior of people on a network. The firm’s flagship firewall software then susses out suspicious activity.
I hope and pray that the Sochi Olympics kickoff and end with the fanfare deserving of the Games — and Russia, too. Unfortunately, the world we live in requires a core competency in security processes and technology. Israeli technology firms are being employed to help secure the systems, venues, and millions of people worldwide. For all we know, they may already be helping Russia host the Games safely.